AUSTIN — Playing in its third NCAA Tournament in program history, UTSA fell to Texas A&M by scores of 26-24, 25-21 and 25-18 on Thursday evening at Gregory Gym.
The Roadrunners (24-8) were led by Conference USA Player of the Year McKenzie Adams’ team-high 13 kills and 10 digs, while fellow first-team all-conference honoree Dajana Boskovic tallied 10 winners. Annie Kunes led the defensive effort with a team-high 15 digs.
The Aggies (19-11) got a match-high 15 kills from Sierra Patrick and another 10 from Jazzmin Babers to advance to Friday night’s second-round match.
UTSA stormed back from an early 11-6 deficit in the opening set and had a set point at 24-23 following a Boskovic kill. However, Texas A&M responded with three consecutive points on a Patrick winner and back-to-back Roadrunners attack errors. Boskovic tallied seven kills and hit .458 in the opening stanza.
UTSA jumped out to a 13-9 lead in the second frame only to see the Aggies respond with a 6-0 run that gave it a 15-13 advantage. Back-to-back kills from Adams and Boskovic tied the set at 15-all, but Texas A&M used a 10-6 run to claim the set and a commanding 2-0 lead into intermission.
The Aggies took advantage of UTSA’s .043 attack percentage in the final frame to take a 17-10 lead and the Roadrunners were unable to mount a late comeback.
“This was just disappointing for us," head coach Laura Neugebauer-Groff said. "We had come off such a high from this season. They were the better team and my only disappointment was we didn’t play our best match tonight.”
Adams closed out her illustrious career as the single-season record holder with 653 kills and she also ranks in the top 10 in career winners, kills per set, total blocks and block assists.
“We won the conference and then won the conference tournament, so that’s obviously a great way to go out your senior year," she said. "To make it to the NCAA Tournament is a great thing, as well. Last year, we weren’t able to do either one of those. Of course, winning is fantastic, but this hurts just as much as last season. You expect to do such great things with such a great team."
The Roadrunners also graduate seniors Paige Hamilton and Brandy Huskey, but they will return a strong nucleus next year.
“This is the beginning of what UTSA is going to become," Kunes said. "This season set a standard for us for next year, the year after that and for our freshmen. We now expect to be in the same place for all four years."